Jahred Dell on Teaching

In this episode, The Sonny Brown Breakdown Podcast, I talk to Jahred Dell- host of The Articulate BJJ Podcast, a high-school teacher, and owner of the website ArticulateBJJ.com. On his website ArticulateBJJ.com, he writes excellent articles about the art, sport and lifestyle of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

We discussed his thoughts on the crossovers between teaching a class of high school students and jiu-jitsu students.

“The one who likes going a little bit beyond the teachings of the coach is gonna progress faster. Even if it’s just adding one detail or putting more of the setup into it.”

– Jahred Dell

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Timestamps


[00:00] – Introduction to Episode 001
[01:30] – Jahred’s Shares His Teaching Methodology
[02:43] – Jahred’s Teaching Approach
[04:04] – The Best Way to Keep the Engagement Rate High in the BJJ
[06:54] – The New Zealand Curriculum
[07:28] – What Pushes People Away From Learning New Things
[08:31] – Methodology of Best Instructors
[09:35] – Drilling Versus Concept-Based Teaching
[12:23] – Enjoyment: A Key Ingredient of Development
[15:20] – Using Jiu-Jitsu as a Catalyst to Open Up the Love of Learning
[19:09] – Techniques to Build Confidence
[21:06] – Jahred’s First Experience of Jiu-Jitsu
[23:15] – The Best Way to Encourage the Culture of Peer-Teaching
[27:00] – Importance of Getting Feedback
[36:01] – How He Processes Feedback and Turns Them Into Constructive Ideas
[40:23] – Culminating Interest in Students Mind
[44:33] – Responsibility of a Teacher
[47:12] – Problem With Acting in the Martial Arts Room
[50:10] – How Jahred Got Confidence for Teaching
[56:47] – Effect of Social Media on Learning
[59:46] – Importance of Books in His Life
[1:04:52] – The Best Way to Contact Jahred

Topics

Teaching Jiu-Jitsu

Teaching On Mat To The Lowest Common Denominator

Jahred says that he’s been teaching for five years and has worked with students with various learning abilities. He says, “if you’re going to think about teaching on the mat, or in a classroom, that’s like the Lowest Common Denominator. So the idea is that everyone’s coming in with a different range of experiences.

And you have to assume that some people on the mats are inexperienced or new to the sport. It might be the case of someone with a very low reading or writing ability. You have to teach that person. And if you can enrich the learning, then everyone else can benefit.”

His Approach Of Teaching To Diverse Students

Jahred has been teaching Jiu-jitsu classes for years now. And what he has observed from his experience is that if you can bring a detail-oriented approach to the beginners, it will help not only the beginners but also the advanced students. To add and enrich stuff that they might have forgotten or that they’ve been neglecting. He sees merit for beginners and advanced classes as separate, but he also thinks conducting mixed classes is crucial.

Keeping The Engagement Rate High

Often, while showing techniques or when the students are not engaged in any activity, they’re slacking off or looking uninterested in the class. He says the key to keep the engagement rate high in a BJJ room is- “Specify the advanced students. Inform them of their strategy and let them put it into their game.” By the time someone is getting a Blue or Purple belt, they’ve got some idea of the technique you are showing them and have enough responsibility in their own learning.

Also, they can engage themselves in giving feedback to their training partners. He says from his experience that the students that he saw taking the biggest ownership in the learnings were the ones that progressed the fastest. Also, if they are enjoying it more, that will decrease the rate of people dropping out and quitting Jiu-Jitsu.

The Students Who’re Gonna Progress Fater

He says there’re some students (beginners or advanced) who’re just sitting there and going like, “Oh, yeah, the coach just told me to drill the Armbar. So I’m just going to drill the Armbar. That’s great. But it’s the one who’s going a little bit beyond that, even if it’s just adding one detail or putting more of the setup into it, is going to progress faster.

Fostering Lifelong Learning

According to Jahred, fostering lifelong learning is the best way of teaching when it comes to teaching kids. It’s like you’re injecting an idea or technique into them, and they’re going to benefit much more later on. When you think about it, learning is just another habit, like getting up and making your bed or washing the dishes. Learning is the same. It’s putting yourself into a mindset where you can absorb and inform. But we, as adults, forget that a little bit when we step onto the mat. We’re like, “Well, I pay fees to be here.”

With all these and other things going on in our heads, we forget that we’re there to absorb. And sometimes this pushes us away from the learning, and we say, “Oh, I’m just gonna do what my coach is doing.” By doing this, you relieve yourself of any responsibility. So, how will you progress? He says, “I see those guys progressing slower than the ones who take on board and ask the right questions, and also add the right techniques.”

Experimenting With Techniques

He says, “All of the best instructors that I’ve seen, they’re not just showing the move in isolation. They’re also explaining to you the bigger picture of why you’re doing it. And I think that really helps to inform you as a student on where you want to take the technique.” He further says, “I’m not just going to do that. I’m going to add it onto things I know and see how these things work in synergy with each other. So it’s like having your teacher there to guide you, and facilitate that experimentation in a way that you can get strong feedback.”

Learning Jiu-Jitsu

Drilling Versus Concept-Based Teaching

About the ongoing debate between Drilling and Concept-based training, he thinks it’s the contrast between the beginner and advanced. You can’t just go to the beginner and tell them “Here’s a concept. Learn it”. When they have no idea of the breadth yet, you can’t expect them to understand the depth.

Drilling is excellent for white or even blue belts. Because you’re drilling stuff to get the breadth of Jiu-Jitsu down, understanding all these techniques and how they work. And then, conceptually, once you have that breadth of understanding, you can build the depth underneath with concepts. No white belt will come in and get to know what you mean about framing unless they’ve first learned how to put those frames in place. So the interplay between the two is really important. And also, you can’t take either of them for granted.

Constructive Feedback

The constructive feedback is vital to both the teacher and student’s ongoing development. Feedback clarifies expectations, helps people learn from their mistakes and builds confidence. Positive feedback is easy – it’s not hard to find the right words to tell someone they’ve done a good job or congratulate them on getting an achievement.

When things are going well, it can be easy to become complacent about giving praise but stopping and smelling the roses is important to build confidence and encourage a culture in which both teacher and student nurture and support one another.

Expectations As A Teacher

According to Jahred, as a teacher, you need to sense the room and be the person they need you to be. They’re paying at the end of the day. So that’s your responsibility. It’s your job. It’s literally what they’re expecting from you in your service. He says, “The thing I think that comes from the students perspective is how much you’re putting into it, and be honest with yourself about that.

Hobbyists have this error about it, that they are doing the most in the room. And it’s maybe because they don’t know any different, or maybe they haven’t engaged enough to see that, or they think that the three times a week that they’re coming means that everyone else is only doing three days a week. They’re still in that stage of what we call naive ignorance.” So his main role as a teacher is to mould himself into different moods to get amongst his students and make the best out of them.

Peer Teaching

Social Media and Learning

There’s a sheer mass of information on YouTube and social media these days. It can really dilute what’s going on within a school and learning. Jared thinks it’s not good to take a technique off, from social media or YouTube, Instagram, wherever you’ve seen it, and then teach it. That would be like any layman going into a history classroom and going, alright, well, let’s watch like 20 minutes of a history documentary, and then we’re going to write an essay on it. It doesn’t work. You have to understand the full context of why it’s happening. When does this work? How do you’ve to apply it against resisting opponents? Because he has also seen the same technique online.

Framing The Class For Newcomers

He shares his strategy to coach the beginners. You can put them in positions where they can see how techniques work. He says, “I don’t think there’s much point in putting a white belt into a class and going hey, here’s an Armbar. Okay, now we’re rolling for an hour, go for it. And then they’ve got no idea. Things like positional sparring, even some just specific drilling at higher intensities with a little bit more resistance can help them build to that idea of confidence, especially if they’ve never come from any kind of sparring oriented martial arts. They need to understand how another body feels and where they can find that success. So it’s about framing the class.”

Best Way To Encourage Peer-Teaching

Sharing why he got into the mindset of peer-teaching, he says, “I saw it in the classroom at first. A student would never ask me first if they didn’t understand what I’d said. They turn to their friend and ask them. When I first started jiu-jitsu, I was coming up with any form of technique. And sometimes your instructors are not right there to ask you, and being a white belt and regularly being partnered with a purple belt or a brown belt helped me understand the techniques. I think that’s probably the best way to get it kicked off.

And as an instructor, when you model that behaviour, you see other people doing it, too. Ah, that was cool. How’d you do that? Ask questions even if it’s too low of a belt. Some guys do cool shit you’ve never seen before. It’s engaging for your students in your class. Like they’ve got something greater to offer? I see my instructors doing that all the time. Hey, this is something you do well. You caught me with that legitimately. How do you get it to work? Show us and then take a step back to give them the centre. It is like allowing these people also to inform the bigger picture of what’s going on.”

Resources

Quotes

“The one who likes going a little bit beyond the teachings of the coach is gonna progress faster. Even if it’s just adding one detail or putting more of the setup into it.”

– Jahred Dell

“The big thing in training Jiu-Jitsu is trusting the process wholeheartedly.”

– Jahred Dell

“If you can enrich the learning, then everyone else can benefit as well.”

– Jahred Dell

Links

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Jahred Dell - Teaching Jiu-Jitsu


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